Beijing: China has developed a series of firefighting tanks that can be used in urban areas and to control forest fires, the media reported on Monday.

Made by China’s largest land arms producer, China North Industries Group Corp, the tanks are in service with at least 28 firefighting departments in Shandong, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Hunan provinces, reported.

The latest type, designed to control forest fires, has received 50 orders and is being delivered to buyers, China North Industries said in a statement.

With the chassis and armour of a military tank, the vehicles can protect crew members from fire, explosions, building collapses and can cross half-metre high obstacles or 2-metre wide trenches. They have an automatic spray device and fireproof coating that can prevent scorching heat from spreading inside the vehicles.

Compared with fire engines, these tanks can get closer to blaze scenes and be used for search-and-rescue missions, according to the statement.

Using 520-horsepower diesel engines and equipped with hydraulic devices, the tanks can clear obstacles weighing up to 15 metric tonnes. Their metal tracks allow them to operate on slopes, in rocky terrain and among the debris of collapsed buildings. The water cannon on the vehicles can spray water as far as 65 metres.

“A single tank can spray nearly 15 tonnes of water onto a fire within 1 minute – equivalent to the capacity of six fire engines,” said a firefighter in Taiyuan, Shanxi province.

It can operate deep into a fire scene without putting the firefighters’ safety at risk. It has good mobility and protection, allowing us to handle dangerous situations such as chemical blasts and toxic leaks, he said.

Russia and Germany have also transformed old tanks into firefighting vehicles.

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